Tips for being safe from the heat on Quad Day

By Susan Szuch

Despite being past the dog days of summer, it always feels as if Quad Day takes place on the hottest day of the year.

While that may be due to the large amount of people present on the Main Quad or the fact that it runs through midday when the sun is the highest, it’s important to know how to be safe throughout the day.

Stay hydrated

While it’s common knowledge to drink fluids when it’s hot outside, the CDC states that people should drink more than usual to combat heat-related illness.

Avoid drinks high in sugar, like soda or fruit juice, as well as alcohol.

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    Both can result in increased dehydration. Drinks that are overly cold should be avoided as well. Sports drinks can also be beneficial no matter the activity level, as they replace the salt and minerals lost when heavy sweating occurs.

    Students should drink fluids regardless of whether they’re strolling along or sprinting from table to table and shouldn’t wait until they’re thirsty to drink. The CDC recommends two to four cups of water per hour, and advises that muscle cramping may be an indicator of heat-related illness.

    Stay cool

    Although booths line most of the Quad, students can keep cool by resting in the shade of trees or ducking into the Illini Union to rest in the air conditioning. If shade is sparse, a wide brimmed hat can also offer some relief.

    Sunscreen also provides protection from the sun when used properly, seeing as sunburn can reduce the body’s ability to cool itself and causes a loss of fluids, as well as pain and skin damage.

    Thirty minutes before going outside, apply SPF 15 or higher sunscreen and continue to apply as directed.

    In addition, sporting lightweight, light colored, loose-fitting clothing can also help keep students cool.

    Stay aware

    Pay attention to the weather forecast to figure out the best time to head to the Quad, seeing as even a small amount of exposure to extreme heat can cause health problems.

    Know the signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion:

    Heat stroke occurs when the body cannot regulate its temperature and can result in death or permanent disability if not treated.

    Symptoms include dry skin from a lack of sweating, dizziness, nausea and confusion. If anyone exhibits these symptoms, call for medical assistance, move the victim to a shady area and cool them rapidly. Do not give them fluids to drink.

    Heat exhaustion is milder than heat stroke, and can manifest after several days of repeated exposure to high temperatures as well as dehydration.

    If left untreated, heat exhaustion can become heat stroke. Unlike heat stroke, victims of heat exhaustion can exhibit heavy sweating and muscle cramps in addition to nausea, dizziness and fainting.

    Immediate medical attention is only needed if the victim has heart problems, high blood pressure, the symptoms are severe or continue for an hour. Otherwise, help them stay cool by providing fluid to drink or letting them rest in an air-conditioned environment.

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    Sources: Centers for Disease Control

    Don’t sweat it: learn how to stay cool on Quad Day.